On 24 March 2020, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced new COVID-19 (Coronavirus) restrictions. This has left many Australians baffled as to what these restrictions entail for citizens and non-citizens. Inevitably, as of midnight Wednesday 25th March 2020 Australia moved to Stage 2 restrictions and the following “essential” trades can remain open:
- Supermarkets (includes convenience stores).
- Petrol Stations.
- Freight and Logistics.
- Food delivery.
- Bottle Shops.
Shopping centres can remain open and food courts in the shopping centers can only serve takeaways. Patrons cannot dine in these premises.
Owners and employees of businesses operating in retail outlets will need to ensure that their customers follow the government’s social distancing guidelines. This means that people must, at all times stand 1.5 metres apart, and only a certain amount of people are allowed in their premises at any one time. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that large numbers of people are not gathered in a confined space. Additionally, PM Morrison has announced that in an enclosed space, there must be 4 square meters provided per person.
In addition to these guidelines, the government is also encouraging people to limit their non-essential travel. This means that people should only travel for reasons such as work, doing the groceries or getting their prescriptions filled.
From midnight on Wednesday 25 March 2020, the following restrictions will apply:
- Beauty therapy, waxing, tanning, nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlours will shut. This excludes any health-related services, such as physiotherapy.
- Food courts in shopping centres will only be allowed to serve takeaway food.
- Auction houses, open house inspections and house auctions will have to close.
- Attend amusement parks, arcades, indoor or outdoor play centres.
- Play social sports – even big groups of people playing football in the park.
- Public pools will be closed, as will libraries.
- Galleries, museums, youth centres, community halls, clubs and RSLs will also have to shut their doors.
- No more barbeques, house parties or other large gatherings in the home.
- Overseas travel is now officially banned.
The Prime Minister will also place restrictions for the following activities:
- Hairdressers can remain open, but customers can only be in the salon for 30 minutes or less.
- Bootcamps and personal training can continue in groups of less than 10. Social distancing must be enforced.
- Funerals will be limited to 10 people – who must stand 1.5 meters away from each other.
- Weddings can also go ahead, but with a maximum of five people: the couple, the celebrant and two guests.
- The closure of outdoor and indoor food markets will be left up to the states.
Travelling overseas is also strongly discouraged, and from midday, 25 March 2020, Australian citizens and permanent residents can no longer travel overseas.
This travel restriction does not apply to:
- people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia.
- airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers.
- people engaged in the day to day conduct of outbound and inbound freight.
- people whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities; and
- people travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.
Whilst this means that people who are temporary residents in Australia may wish to return to their home country, they should be aware that they may face obstacles re-entering Australia. This is because, as of 9 PM on 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members can re-enter Australia. Further, “immediate family members” has a limited definition and only applies to:
- dependent children.
- legal guardians.
In light of these new restrictions, Kah Lawyers is aware that visa holders may be concerned about their ability to substantially comply with their visa conditions. We encourage visa holders to make an appointment to seek legal advice.
Disclaimer: This information is current at the time of publication and subject to change. The contents of this blog post is provided for general information only and Kah Lawyers does not accept any liability for any damages suffered by persons who relied on this information. This information does not constitute as legal advice and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. .